To my knowledge adding Roof Track Rails on an early Sprinter (-2006) was never an option from the factory. If you have a newer model (2007 on) you can add factory style rails if your van didn’t come with them.
I had to start from scratch and scanned through a few options to add a roof rack, like systems that are mounted on the rain gutters. At the end I’ve decided that I want the additional flexibility that comes with rack tracks since they are basically just rails where you slide in whatever you need to attach to the roof.
There are very expensive options from the main manufacturers of roof rack systems but I’ve found a company that sells generic track rails in various sizes: ProLine Racks. You can order them as small as 36″ and up to 78″ long. For the flat roof of a Sprinter you need the flat rails – ProLine sells also bowed tracks that fit curved roofs.
The system itself is compatible to both Yakima and Thule with an additional fit kit that you can order from ProLine as well.
Installation is easy: dry fit the rails on the roof. If you already have accessories that you want to mount on the roof, install them on the racks so that you know where to place them.
Once you know the exact location of the rails make sure that the holes you’re about to drill from the outside won’t be in a bad location (e.g. on top of the structural beams). ProLine adds some self sealing screws to the rails but I’ve used bolts with a nylon nut to be sure that the whole assembly stays on the roof.
The main reason for me to add roof rails was to have a good foundation for my solar panel install – here’s a picture of the first panel installed.
The brackets that hold the solar panels in place are made from an aluminum L profile.
To hold the brackets in place on the rails I used the sliding piece from a couple of tie downs I’ve ordered from ProLine with the rails. Attach this piece to the aluminum bracket with a matching screw and a washer and you can slide the bracket into place on the rail and then screw it tight before you install the solar panel on the bracket.
I pretty much covered the full length of the Sprinter with two sets of rails: a set of 48″ and a second set of 66″.
- roof rack tracks
- bolts and nuts
- putty and/or sealant
- depending on your needs: Yakima or Thule fit kits which make these tracks compatible to Yakima Control Towers [@eBay] or Thule Tracker II feet [eBay].
- Drill with drill bit
Affiliate disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
9 thoughts on “Installing Roof Rack Tracks on a T1N Sprinter”
Hey there, I was inspired by your post and ended up deciding to go the same route. Now that I have the proline roof rails and my solar panels I’ve realized I have no idea how you attached the brackets to the rails. Would you mind explaining the parts you used/process? Tried to zoom in to see on your photo but can only see that you have screws going through the vertical face of the bracket into the panel. Thanks for all the resources you’ve put out specific to the t1n!
I’ve updated the post with two pictures – I hope that helps you to figure out how to mount the solar panels on the roof racks.
Finally, I have a reasonable solution for installing mine now. Thank you so much for doing this write up…and the photos.
I think I’m going to do this on my E350 with fiberglass high roof! The high roof has a 43×60 inch zone that is reinforced with wood for mounting solar. I’ll buy a set of 60 inch tracks and mount 3x renogy 100w compact panels (each 42.2 inches x 19.6 inches)
I have a couple questions- how many holes did you have to put in the roof for your 66″ rails? I’m assuming it’ll be a similar amount to the 60″ version. Also, what does it look like on the inside of the roof? My concern is that I’ll be adding a thin carpet to the interior of my fiberglass high roof and I can’t have anything too large under the carpet. However, the wood I’ll be mounting to is about 2 inches deep I believe.
Great solution for installing solar on the Sprinter. Did you use hard points in the roof or did you just drill holes in the top?
Where did you run the wires from the solar panels? Just drill another hole?
So I see from downloading and zooming in on the photos, that the rails appear to be held on the roof using nuts and bolts, and I know the Proline rails have a seal/adhesive on the back. I am thinking I would still hit each screw with some 3M 5200 Marine adhesive sealant and then seal from the inside with the same.
What I cannot figure out is how the panels are attached to the brackets. It looks like they are just self tapping screws. In my mind I would think that with vibrations they might back themselves out, even if you used a thread-lock such as Locktight.
I would love to understand fully how these are actually mounted, and how it has held up since this was originally posted in 2019.
I’d would gladly welcome anyone else’s feedback/experience with this method of mounting!!!
Unitrack rails on eBay much cheaper
I can’t find any Unitrack rails on eBay, at least in the US. Do you have a link?
Look at a steel supply, Uni-Strut comes in multiple heights 7/8”, 1 5/8”. . There are a multitude of brackets and options .
Comments are closed.